|April 29, 2008
Seashore leader files information on the eve of hearing
attorneys filed a “declaration” by Cape Hatteras National
Seashore Superintendent Mike Murray late today in U.S. District Court
in Raleigh on the eve of a hearing on the contentious issue of ORV
access at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
document contains Murray’s overview of the Interim Protected
Species Management Plan and the “key modifications” of that
plan under the proposed consent decree. One change, he says, is that
ORV access in the summer months will be “significantly”
reduced to protect nesting shorebirds and sea turtles.
declaration is 19 pages long. Along with it, attorneys filed
another dozen or so pages of maps and charts explaining buffers that
will keep ORVs, and sometimes pedestrians, away from nesting shorebirds.
interim plan is guiding the park’s management of ORV use on its
beaches until there is a long-term ORV rule, which is being formulated
by a negotiated rulemaking committee.
proposed consent decree was filed in federal court on April 16.
It would settle a lawsuit filed in October by Defenders of Wildlife and
the National Audubon Society, represented by Southern Environmental Law
Center, over ORV operation on the seashore beaches, which the groups
say is illegal. They claim that the interim plan does not go far
enough to protect shorebirds and sea turtles.
plaintiffs, the federal defendants, and the defendant/intervenors
– Dare and Hyde counties and the Cape Hatteras Access
Preservation Alliance – agreed on a settlement after several
weeks of negotiation in April.
District Court Judge Terrence W. Boyle will conduct a hearing tomorrow
at 2 p.m. on the settlement, also known as a consent decree.
federal filing today notes that Murray will be available in court
tomorrow to talk about the consent decree and discuss the maps of
pre-nesting and nesting areas and how they will affect access to some
of the seashore’s most popular fishing and recreation area
– Bodie Inlet spit, Cape Point and South Beach, Hatteras Inlet,
and the north and south point of Ocracoke.
his declaration, Murray notes that he believes the proposed consent
decree will “ensure effective resource protection and a reduced
but reasonable level of ORV access” for the next three years
while the Park Service completes its long-range ORV management plan.
states in the filing that ORV access in fall and winter will be similar
to what it is now under the interim plan. However, he says, that
during nesting season in the summer, there will be “a significant
reduction in ORV access.”
Declaration of Cape Hatteras National Seashore Superintendent Mike Murray. With Maps.